INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard on Wednesday met up on stage with head coach Frank Reich at the annual Colts Kickoff Luncheon for a Q&A session about a variety of topics.
Here's that conversation with FOX59's Chris Hagan (check out Reich's Q&A by clicking here):
On the importance of all the time the team has been putting in, particularly since the start of training camp and through the preseason:
"I think listening to Peyton (Manning), it's a great emphasis of how important training camp is, and going away and being in Westfield — and what a great setup it was for our team. Just the camaraderie, the bonding, everything that takes place. And that's when the locker room forms. I mean, every year is a different year and you start over; no matter if you win the Super Bowl or you're the first pick in the draft, you're starting over. And that camaraderie in the locker room, that bonding that you have a chance to do, is critical for us. And it was a long training camp, now — I think we were out there 28 days — but it was a great experience for the organization, great for our team, great for our staff to really get everything implemented that they wanted to get implemented, and great for our fans to be able to come out every day and see our players."
On his evaluation of the team's 11 draft picks this year:
"They've been good. I mean, I think you've always gotta remember they're rookies, and they're going to make rookie mistakes. But the development of all of them have been good. We've been very pleased with all of 'em — their effort, their attention to detail, learning how to be a pro. Our organization does a really good job — we have a lot of people, you know, Peyton talked about the people behind the scenes, I mean, they're as important in developing our players as our coaching staff is, because they touch 'em every day. So teaching how to be Colts, teaching them the way we want to do things, is important. So it's been fun."
On the process of cutting down the roster from 90 to 53 players this weekend:
"It's the hardest part of the job. It's the absolute most difficult part of the job, is saying goodbye to guys that you know have worked for you, some of them for years, some of them for the last four months, but they've given everything that you've asked them to give, and we've got to make decisions and we have to move on from 'em. That's very difficult."
On what he's learned now in his second year as Colts' GM:
"They tell you when you take the job there's going to be five things that come across your desk every day that you didn't expect. That is wrong. There's about 25 things that cross your desk that you didn't expect. But saying that, we're always going to be looking — Frank talks about this, and I think it's not only from a football team, but from an organizational standpoint — (for) the relentless pursuit to get better, an obsession to finish. And we have to be in that mindset every day. Everybody in the organization has to be in that mindset. That's the only way you get better. And you have to do that every day, and when you focus on that, the wins will come, the success will come. And so we just focus on every day getting better, every day finishing strong and getting better."
On if there are day-by-day, week-by-week, year-by-year goals:
"Ultimately we're judged by wins and losses. I'm not naive, and I don't think anybody in this room's naive to that. That's how we're judged. Our mission internally is every day to get better; every day to force each other and push each other to get better. That starts in the locker room, that starts at every level of the organization, from ownership to pushing us and giving us a directive of where we're going, and then for us to relentlessly pursue to get better. When you focus on the process and you focus on getting better every day, the results, they'll take care of themselves. So as long as we're making progress and pushing in the way we need to go, we'll get there."
On if his mind is always on football, and how he balances it out with family life:
"It's always turning. And they beat me up — that's what everybody says, 'Well, how do you handle the media?' I promise you, they are not as near as critical as my kids are. They come home, and, 'Dad, how could you absolutely do what you just did?' So it's always (awesome), and the great thing is, like, they get it. My wife's outstanding — there's no way I could do what I do without her. And then my children understand. They have thick skin, they get it, they handle the ebbs and flows of what goes on in this profession. And, look: we're blessed to do what we do. I mean, I could have to go get a real job. That would suck."
On if he has been absolutely wrong when evaluating a player as a scout who went on to become a really good player:
"Absolutely. I mean, that's human nature of scouting … that's the hard part about scouting. Because sometimes, even in college football, schematically they're not fit in the right way and they're not being used to maximize their talent level, and all of a sudden they hit the league and they become a great player. You know, that's part of it. And I've got too many to list. I mean, and if you've scouted and put it out there, you're gonna miss, you're gonna make mistakes. That's the nature of the beast."